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Regional municipalities weigh in on St. Albert business plan

stock-St. Albert Place DR020


An earlier version of this story listed Stephane Labonne as the CAO of Sturgeon County. He is the CAO of Morinville.

At least one municipality in the Edmonton area would be interested in using services St. Abert could offer through a city-owned, arms-length utility company.

Bob Young, the mayor of Leduc, said his city is interested in what St. Albert is doing but hasn’t had an opportunity to chat about it in detail with St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron yet.

"We are definitely interested in St. Albert's Utility Corporation," he said in an email.

“The Leduc Region has been looking at Waste to Energy options as well. The Edmonton Metropolitan region is looking at regional transit and perhaps there is an opportunity to look at solid waste management as well. I know (Edmonton) Mayor (Don) Iveson has stated several times that Edmonton would be interested in investigating regional solid waste management solutions. The City of Leduc is always open to new partnership opportunities that will benefit our residents and the region."

The Gazette reached out to municipalities in the Edmonton area to gauge interest in St. Albert's proposal. On Monday, St. Albert city council will hold a public hearing on starting a municipal utility corporation which could offer consulting and inspection services to other municipalities, garbage services to businesses and multifamily buildings, and waste-to-energy and wastewater treatment services.

Morinville CAO Stephane Labonne said the town is aware of St. Albert's plan in general but noted their council has not yet had an opportunity to discuss the plan as a whole.

He noted the town is also participating in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board's regional servicing plan, "looking for opportunities for collaborating on projects realted to transportation, water and storm water management, fire services, and solid waste."

Mel Smith, the mayor of Redwater, said he didn't know about the potential utility corporation and couldn't comment on whether Redwater would use St. Albert's services without knowing more information first.

Outside customers

St. Albert councillors Ken MacKay and Sheena Hughes said the city's business plan does not rely heavily on outside customers from other municipalities, but there is the potential for them to sign on as customers.

“There is the chance if you want to have other communities or other organizations outside of our borders, they would have the option to do it. But the business case is really relying on primarily St. Albert residents,” Hughes said, adding she sees that as a weakness in the case.

MacKay said there is the potential to find opportunities outside of the city but said the numbers put forward from the city are “ultra conservative.”

The councillor said they could move into other municipalities or compete with private sector companies for business, adding he struggles with the philosophy of the latter.

The councillor said St. Albert will need to compete against private industry providers and the corporation will have some growth in St. Albert as the city grows and annexes lands.

In August, councillors signed off on a bylaw that gives St. Albert exclusivity over utility services unless it expressly gives permission for a business to offer the same services within St. Albert, but there would still be competition regionally.

“But it's part of being in business, is to always look at opportunities, and so they're going to have to be out there being competitive, looking at developing new streams of revenue, and that's where I don't know enough about it,” MacKay said.

MacKay said they are not currently out recruiting other municipalities to be customers of their new service and said it is too early, although they have been looking for partners for their waste-to-energy project, which would be part of the proposed utility corporation.

Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Jennifer Henderson is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for Great West Newspapers based in St. Albert, Alta.
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